MSP attacks government attitude towards telecoms in remote areas

The Thatcherite laissez faire attitude of the Scottish government towards telecommunications is depriving some remote parts of the country of proper links, according to isles MSP Tavish Scott.

After raising a West Burrafirth constituent’s concerns about lack of mobile phone reception, limited broadband access and non-existent terrestial TV reception in the area with enterprise minister Jim Mather, he said the SNP government was showing a “worrying” reliance on the market to deliver.

Mr Scott said: “I am worried that the minister takes such a laissez faire attitude on this crucial issue. The market cannot be relied upon to cover sparsely populated areas such as West Burrafirth and many other parts of Shetland.

“These areas need positive government action. The last Scottish government stepped in with funding to get broadband to every exchange and satellite broadband for those out of reach. But those welcome improvements are getting left behind as the technology develops.

“In his reply, the minister says that he appreciates my constituent’s concerns but gives no sign of any real determination to address them. Scottish government action seems to be limited to ‘liaising’ with others and to letting the market deliver.”

He added: “West Burrafirth and many other parts of Shetland will be left far behind as the digital revolution sweeps across much of the rest of Scotland so action is needed, not Thatcherite market economics.”


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